By Nicole Tinkham
We engage with hundred of artists on our Facebook page every week, and wanted to take a moment to brag on how amazing your work is. We are always blown away at the response we get anytime we ask to see their artwork. But we also see some frustration. Many of you have the dream of following your passion but feel stuck in a full-time job or other responsibilities where you can’t give your art your complete attention. We want to help you get there! We believe in you and your dreams. We know that you are capable of incredible things and we want you to succeed. But first you’ll have to put in some serious work. If you want to start your own art business but have no clue how to begin, here are the 3 action steps you can do TODAY to get started on your new journey.
What exactly do you want to do?
If your answer to this question is “do art” you need to dig a little deeper. Before starting any business, you must have a clear plan and vision on where you want to take it. The first thing you must do is find your niche. Many of the artists we know are so talented in many areas but we recommend narrowing it down and getting laser focused on one particular thing you do well. We say this because you need to stand out in the crowd. There are so many artists just like you trying to make a living with their art. You have something different to offer this world. Stop trying to do everything and instead do one thing really well. Do that one thing like no one else. Choose something that other people aren’t doing or if they are, put your own unique spin on it. We understand that it’s easy to think that the more variety of artwork you produce, the more people you will attract. However, if you really get focused on one type or style, you will build a strong following of supporters. Those who like your unique style will keep coming back for more and will love everything you put out there. To us, it’s more valuable to gain the trust of some loyal customers than to have many customers come and go who may not return.
Finding your niche isn’t an easy thing to do. Don’t just sit down for 5 minutes and think of something. Take plenty of time to figure out where you want your art business to go. Here are just a few action steps you can take right away to help you figure out your niche:
• Take a look at your artist portfolio. What stands out to you? What’s your favorite piece? What did you have most fun creating? What do you get the most compliments on?
• Ask for opinions. Let some of your artist friends take a look at your art portfolio and explain to them what you plan to do. Ask non artists as well what they like from your portfolio and also current customers. Is there a common theme of what they like? Sometimes an outsider can give you insight on where your talents lie better than you yourself can.
• Look at the competition. What are other artists in a similar niche doing? How can you be unique and different? Why would someone rather do business with you?
Get down to business!
When starting an art business, or any business for that matter, it’s important to treat it like a business. We could be wrong but we’re going to assume that your talent lies in creating artwork, not in building a business and that’s totally ok. You don’t need to run out and get a business degree or anything like that, but having an understanding of the basic business principals is always good to know before getting started. Here are some initial things you’ll want to start thinking about now:
• Pricing your work to sell
• How you will market yourself
• Managing business expenses
This may not be the fun and exciting part of your art business, but challenge yourself to learn a little about the business world each day. You can pick up a few books, listen to audio, research online, watch YouTube videos, or ask someone else to help you out with it. Never feel like you’re alone on this journey. There are so many people and resources out there to help you along. Remember that you can look up just about any question you have on Google and find an instant answer!
Grow your network
Once you get your business going you’ll need customers, right? So why not start growing your network now? Let the people already in your life know what you’re future business plans are. They may even be able to give you valuable feedback. Also begin meeting new people that you connect with that could be future customers. Start by being active in your art community and get your name out there. Have your friends spread the word of what you’re doing and be sure to have all these new contacts saved in one place. You can organize all contacts in a spreadsheet or write them down in a notebook if you’re a pen and paper kind of person. Either way is perfectly fine as long as you’re keeping track of it! You can also explore online forums and Facebook groups relating to something you’re interested in (doesn’t necessarily have to be art related). This is a great way to find like-minded people and build that relationship with them so when you do start up your business, they’ll already have an interest in buying from you.
Your homework for today is: Make a list of 100 people you already know. This could be close friends, family, your neighbor, someone from your past that you haven’t spoken to in awhile, or your hair dresser. 100 People sounds like a lot but if you really think about everyone you know, you’ll have your list created in no time. Once you have this list, it’s time to start reaching out to these people. You don’t have to jump in and tell them all about your business plan right away. Just catch up with them and see how they’re doing. If you have the chance to mention your new art business, go for it but make it sound natural.
Starting your own art business isn’t as easy as just creating art and having fun with it. We definitely think having fun and enjoying yourself is a huge part of success but there is more that goes into the business side of it. First you’ll have to figure out exactly what you want to do and determine your niche. You’ll also have to learn basic business practices or have someone help you get started. And you’ll always have to be growing your network so you constantly have new buyers. Not only will these three action steps get your art business started right but they’ll also open your eyes as to what’s involved in running your own business. Maybe you’ll discover by doing these things that an art business is just not for you and that’s perfectly fine! It’s better to find out now than later on down the road.
Do you already have your own art business? We would love to hear your story on how you got started. Feel free to share with us below in the comments!